Living on the equator has its benefits. It’s sunny for most days of the year ( a plus for a California girl missing home). The day’s length is relatively constant (no confusing fall back, spring forward… or is the other way around?). And it’s pretty cool to live next to the Rotary Club’s “You are now passing the equator” sign. But it’s not beneficial during this drawn out drought. According to my school’s principal, in the four years that she has been in Magwar she’s never seen a drought like this.
My previous conception of drought included a TV reporter advising all earth conscious folk to water your lawn only once a day, changing the vegetable garden sprinklers, or my mom warning us to save water by turning off the tap when brushing our teeth. But here, in Kenya, a drought means something completely different. It means wilting maize, beans and kale crops therefore questioning a family’s ability to feed its children. It means dust covered foliage on the roadside. It means the rain water tanks are squeezing out their last drop of clean drinking water. It means the school’s seemingly endless well drying up leaving a few inches of muddy slush. It means school children wandering Magwar with jerry cans and buckets searching for a well that hasn’t yet met the same fate.
While we wait for the rain to come, I can’t help but wonder, what if it doesn’t? Of course, it will one day, but the scorching heat and thirsty students and panting dogs make me question the when. When will it come to save the parched crops? When it will come to change the dusty roads to muddy ones? Never before has water been such a continual thought on my mind. As I sit here looking up at the cloudless sky, I can only help that day will come soon. Soon enough to replenish our well, to provide drinking water, to quench the crops. Soon enough to make me wish the mud were dust. It will, but will it be soon enough?
*Disclaimer: It rained! It hailed! Our tank has water! I wrote this entry a week ago and now can gladly say that rain has come to our village. The buckets are under the rain gutters. The plants are dust free. And the people are happy.